Sample Queries and Reports
The following is a sample list of queries you could run on a database like the one I've described elsewhere.
Text-retrieval and Content analysis
There are an almost infinite number of possibilities here (no kidding! look at how many fields I have and start counting up the permutations). Some of the more common include:
In general you can combine the following in any number of ways (any fields really, but these are the most useful I think):
Once you get your search results, you can then go through the sources to find whatever you're looking for.
Examples: In the wake of Ramillies, how informed was Marlborough on the strength of the fortifications in Brabant? Find all letters (Genre) written to Marlborough (Recipient) that mention the state of fortifications (Topic) during or before 1706 (Year). Another: Do English commanders (Service of Author) have different opinions (Opinion? check box) on the desirability of battle (Topic = "Battle*") based on what Theater they serve in? Do their attitudes towards battle change after service in a particular theater?
Or you can do basic statistics on the documents
Examples: During the siege of Douai, what were Albergotti's main concerns? Count (count NotesID) the number of Albergotti's (Author) outgoing letters during Douai (EventID) and group by Topic. Sort in descending order to get a list of the most frequently mentioned topics in his correspondence. You could further break it down by Recipient if you wanted to see whether he brought up certain kinds of issues with certain people.
To really take advantage of relational databases, however, you can link these tables to more distantly related ones, thus allowing, for example, prosopographical analysis by linking your notes table to a Personalities table. You could compare the Topics discussed by Persons depending on their Rank or Branch of service - for example, did lower officers (or younger officers) have a different opinion of the siege of Douai than their superiors? Did a particular individual (Person) differ from his peers (by Side, Branch, Rank, etc.) when discussing a particular Topic? By finding all the records that have these criteria, I could analyze these questions and many more. Note: this database is not able to do statistical analyses of texts; for that you need a dedicated qualitative/literary analysis package. You can however do simple math (counts, even averages if you have quantitative data). Expanding the analysis to additional tables further increases the number of possible analyses, truly offering you a career-worth of analysis with a large, well-designed, database.
In the future people could link various databases to each other (e.g. my database to other scholars', or perhaps even library catalogs), this would further expand its possibilities. It might be possible for various scholars to make "modules," including reference tables with currency exchange rates, prices, measurements, etc. that could be very useful to a wider group of scholars.
These queries can be used to analyze the sources themselves, in addition to the content of the documents. Most of these require statistical queries and that some thought be given to the methodology - for example some counts of correspondence require having close to the population (or a representative sample) of all that person's correspondence. For further information, get a book on qualitative analysis.
This might show, for example, the growth of bureaucracy during the period covered by your database. If you include the Theater field, you could see if person X shows far more interest in one area than another, etc.
These queries can be used to prepare for researching as well as for cleaning the data by checking for mistakes made in data entry.
I also have a number of standard reports I can run - a report is simply a printer-friendly form. With a database you can create almost any conceivable report (based off queries), but these are a few that I have made so far:
Source By Author: prints each document written by Author X, so you can see a summary of all the documents you have that were written by that person. You can display any fields you like, and sort it by any number of fields, e.g. by Recipient, by Source/Archive, by Date of Document, etc. You could also count the number of records within each Source, to see how many of X's letters are in each source/archive.
Source By Event: prints a list of all the documents that deal with Event X, listing Author, Recipient, location in Source/Archives, type of document, etc. Same sorting and counting options.
Content By Day: you can print off the content (the actual text, or Notes field) of what each document says by day - you might want to group them by source or side. Then you can compare each source's comments for a particular day on a separate sheet.
As you can see, these queries and reports are the reason why you would spend so much time developing and filling a Notes database in the first place.
Last edited 11/24/2001